Gummies

If you go out in the woods today

You're sure of a big surprise.

If you go out in the woods today

You'd better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain, because

Today's the day the gummy bears have their picnic.

Soft red curls clumped together with multicolored bears, a lone red one stuck to her cheek, a few more gathered in various places on flannel pajamas. It's a gummy party and everyone is invited. It's too early to be awake in the morning. Too early after a late night spent sobbing over chewy candies with no reprieve from reality. If Daddy was at home, he didn't say a word, he didn't go see what was wrong. Just as well, she wouldn't have been able to look at him anyway. Was this his fault? Did working with the evolved make him some sort of carrier for their disease? Was it passed on to her before birth or did it happen when she was a child?

Delia opens her eyes to the mirror. Having stumbled through the empty house blind, she didn't have a chance to catch herself before venturing out of her room. Had she caught a glimpseā€¦

The red gummy is picked off her cheek with a sneer and forcibly whipped into the garbage. A sudden jolt of pain courses through her, whether its emotional or physical, she just can't tell anymore. She's been so numb. Looking down into the trash, she spies the gummy laying on its back on top of an empty toilet roll. The eyeless little candy points up at her and the redhead feel somewhat guilty. It looks a little like a castaway, clinging to a log for dear life; only, its lifesaver is a paper tube. In a moment of regret, Delia bends down to pluck the squishy gum, rescuing it from the receptacle. The bit of dust is brushed off of it and it is laid carefully by the sink before she examines herself again.

Gummy Bears. The ones in her hair are hidden in various spots, some of them are alone, others with company. Slowly, one by one, she begins picking out the worst of them, the ones that seem to have formed nests in her head. They're each dropped without care into the dustbin. When she's finished with those, she roots through the rest of her red curls, capturing the stragglers until they're all gone. The mess of discarded bears in the trash are tangled with strands of hair, the pile growing and growing until it forms a rather formidable blob. They're already gone, already wasted, impotent from their place down in the basket.

Blue eyes drift down to that red one, the one that was nestled against her cheek. She picks it up and considers it, turning it around to view it from every angle. "What makes you so special?" she asks the red one, pausing as though it will actually answer back. It makes her angry, enough that she squishes it hard between her fingers. Her nails dig into the gelatin that makes up the candy and the little bear is left cut and scarred. A scowl forms on her face as she regards the ruined gummy. The dented little head and body point up to her, making her feel guilty for injuring it so gravely. The scowl smooths and with a pained sigh, Delia begins molding the gum back together, healing the little cuts.

Once again, her little red companion is placed on the counter. It looks a little worse for wear but, at the very least, it's still able to watch as she begins pulling the visible bears off her flannel pajamas. The first is pulled off, a green one, its body covered in a fine white layer of flannel fiber. She glances at the pile of hairy bears in the trash and instead of tossing it in with, she grabs a tissue and places it and its fellows in before encasing them. The tissue is crushed in her palm and whatever the fate is of the bears inside, she will never know. The crumpled mass is pitched in alongside the hairy clump, always together yet separate.

There's a rumble outside and the redhead races back to her room to peek out the window. At the far end of the block, the garbage truck is collecting bags from all of her neighbors. The end of her own driveway is empty.

Later in the day, Benjamin might find that the garbage has been taken out, a chore usually left for him. He also might find a solitary red gummy bear sitting on the bathroom counter. Broken and bruised, alone and forgotten, it sits and waits.

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